The soft, floating, graceful movements of the Waltz make this romantic ballroom dance one of the most popular and fun to learn dances. The Waltz dance evolved in Vienna, Austria in the 17th century and was often danced in the ballrooms of the Hapsburg court. The closed hold (traditional dance hold) version of the Waltz was introduced during the middle of the 18th century. By the end of the 18th century, the Waltz dance had been accepted by high society and was here to stay. It is believed that the first time the Waltz was danced in the United States was in the 1800's. This is an elegant, progressive ballroom dance with long, flowing movements and continuous turns that is danced counterclockwise around the dance floor. The Waltz video on this page shows examples of what this graceful dance looks like.
The Waltz dance is characterized by "rise and fall" and "sway" movements. "Rise and fall" refers to the movement that is created through the body from the flexing and bending of the knees with a lowering of the body and then straightening of the knees with a rising up onto the toes. This movement is repeated throughout the Waltz and is also demonstrated in the Waltz video on this page. "Sway" is the movement that a dancer creates with their body, when in motion, as the body moves away from the moving foot. Waltz dance music is written in 3/4 time and is counted 1 2 3, 1 2 3 with the first beat being the down beat and the second and third beats the up beats of each measure. The basic step in the Waltz dance is called a "box" step and is danced "forward-side-together-back-side-together". The expressive nature of the Waltz music encourages the dancers to move very dynamically, gliding around the dance floor while seeming effortless. Again, you can see this in the Waltz video on this page.
There are two styles of Waltz dances: International Style Standard Waltz, which is danced in a closed dance hold throughout the dance (the classic dance position between dancers) and American Style Smooth Waltz, which allows the dancers to break contact (completely in some figures) with open movements, underarm turns, spins and a greater variety of figures. The movements make the American Style Smooth Waltz dance look like ballet and ballroom dance combined. Both Waltz dances are also demonstrated in the Waltz video on this page.